Lauren Engel is a hip, happening girl. Originally from Hong Kong, she’s based in Boston where she goes to college and from where she jetsets all over the place taking amazing photographs. But just beign a photographer doesn’t describe Lauren. She is also one of the editors of C-Heads Magazine, a reference in youth culture, and she also models.
Who is Lauren Engel?
I am a photographer, student (one semester left!) and I’m starting to get into fashion styling and youtubing.
How did growing up in Hong Kong affect your view of photography?
Growing up in Hong Kong with its mentality made me want to ‘make do’ with what I have, whether it is location or styling, I try to make every shoot the best I can even with limited resources. Most of the photography in Hong Kong is very sterile, commercial, somewhat corny and in my opinion, little emotion. After going to the states I wanted to stray away from this, add more personality and emotion.
How do you define the kind of photography you do?
I love shooting fashion, travel, lifestyle, events, music, pretty much every moment in my life I feel the urge to capture. I don’t fit into a certain box but what I love most is fashion.
What is the thread that ties your entire body of work?
I’d say colour and personality. I don’t think I’ve ever really done a black and white picture. I see things very colourful and energetic and try to capture the same in my pictures. All my travel, fashion, event pictures all have strong colour.
How does fashion influence your photography?
I am starting to style and I’m seriously loving it. I realized that it gives me more control over my vision and how I want the shoot to be. Styling makes such a big difference to the mood of a shoot.
How do you prepare for a shoot?
First, I find someone I want to shoot–musician, model, blogger, etc. Then, I try to figure out a location–that was such a struggle in New York. When I was in New York it was freezing, so that limited me to only shoot indoors. Then I would put together a moodboard and figure out the style I wanted and if I needed to bring a makeup artist on board.
Do you have a favorite body-type when choosing a model?
Anything but super thin/muscular. I love photographing plus-size models, they know their bodies so well and how to move. Growing up in Hong Kong there weren’t any plus-size models and I just shot my first few in New York over the last year and they’re the sweetest and coolest people to photograph on set!
Did becoming an editor for C-Heads make you a better photographer?
I’m not sure if it directly made me better but I have the platform now to shoot more people, some of which are influential and every circumstance I put myself in, I try to get the best shot out of it. I’m constantly pushing myself to be better.
What are your criteria when editing your own shoots?
It’s interesting how people see colours differently, when I edit my pictures I just try to see what looks best for me, which will be completely different to someone else. I like my pictures to have a hint of purple/blue, contrasted and bright.
Do you think it’s easier to photograph girls being one?
Yes, I am more or less the age of models that I am photographing so I feel like they are just my friend or peer. Sometimes I feel lucky I am not a guy, that would make things less easy. It also makes girls more comfortable and show their personality.
Did photographing events help you develop skills for shooting fashion?
I would say it would be the opposite, shooting fashion helped me photograph events. I can’t stand straight up event photography. Especially the ones shot in fish -eye or super posey. I try to pretend that every event I go to is a massive photoshoot. When I’m in Hong Kong and a lot of agency models go to the parties, it’s really fun when everyone is posing and it just feels like a huge fun shoot with great music.
Do you think that directing a model subtracts spontaneity from a photo?
In some ways but I only direct a model if I feel that we aren’t on the same vision with the posing. Sometimes models need to know your vision to be on the same page and it helps to guide them.
What advice can you give to photographers that are starting out?
Search for your muse, for photographers you love, models you love and create a dreamworld then try to capture it.
What is your worst fear?
If my bf passes away randomly, I don’t know how I will be…he’s my best friend
What would your perfect day be like?
Well one can dream right? Wake up on a pirate boat (http://files.livefastmag.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/livefast_maxlowe21.jpg), eat the freshest sashimi, arrive at a deserted island with the most stunning beach and nature, take some pictures on my camera, board the boat, go to a historically rich and derelict place and wander around until sunset, then watch sunset on the boat while drinking some wine and eating brie cheese…
Best record of 2015?
Ah yes this is an easy one–Kill J- You’re Good But I’m Better. It’s honestly such a great song and I wish it would have more awareness. I’m planning an interview with her so I’m super stoked about that.
What’s in the horizon for Lauren?
Graduating in May, then figuring out what I am going to do for my career! It will probably be with marketing/data analytics and definitely doing photography in the side. I’m considering moving to LA, but I’ll see how that goes 😉
All photos by Brendan North // @brendannorth